Joshua and Jonathan

The Trading Co. Interview & Gallery, Part 2

The Interview, Part 2

The Interview, Part 2

Old Dog Records, One Degree of Separation, and More

This is part of our inter­view with Jonathan Eldridge and Joshua Griffin, who, together, form The Trading Co., an Oklahoma City-​based blues-​rock duo. They vis­ited us shortly before their Old Dog Records show­case, which took place in late February at the Route 66 Roadhouse. Also on the ticket were label mates the Kamals and Black Jack Gypsys. Check out the gallery of pics from that show after you fin­ish read­ing.

Mercury Photo BureauHow did Old Dog Records form?

Joshua GriffinWe met [the Kamals] a lit­tle while back; [Jonathan]’s brother is friends with those guys, so that’s how we got hooked up with [them], and they’ve […] been talk­ing about record­ing and pos­si­bly open­ing up a stu­dio. So we […] joined forces with those guys and Old Dog was born.

Jonathan EldridgeWhen we recorded our first demo/​EP thing, we were plan­ning on going to Travis Linville, and then my brother Michael said, You gotta call Zak [Kaczka]; he’s started doing this and he’s got this equip­ment, so we went […] and talked to him. And he was more excited than we were […]. The first day, we tracked three songs almost com­pletely […]. I was really sur­prised by how much we got done and how fast.

JoshuaYeah, we were done with that EP in a week-​and-​a-​half.

Jonathan (I)
Jonathan (I) — Old Dog Records Showcase at Route 66 Roadhouse

JonathanWe fin­ished that, and a lit­tle bit of time [passed] and we got back together with a cou­ple of the guys [from the Kamals], and we came up with this idea of Let’s all work together; we’ve got every­thing we need to run a stu­dio. We had a bunch of equip­ment, mics, gui­tars, amps; Zak had a real nice 24-​channel board, old tape machines, stuff like that.

MPBI hear you have a con­nec­tion to the James Gang?

JoshuaWe found — we kinda looked around for a while, look­ing for [an ana­logue] tape machine, and we finally found [a pair].

JonathanAn eight-​channel and a two-​channel ¼″; just a half-​track, old Tascam, prob­a­bly late ’60s or early ’70s.

We’d had an old Otari we’d used on [the EP], and it’s a nice model, but we were look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle more pro­fes­sional. We found [the] Tascam in Cleveland, which, as the story goes, was used by the James Gang. […] The Guy we bought it from was either the sec­ond or third owner. There was one track on some ¼″ that had some infor­ma­tion on it, and […] some very sketchy paper­work that assumed some things that made you believe that [it had been used by the James Gang]. Whether it was or not, it’s a fun story, and we all like Funk #49, so we like to think it was.

Joshua (I)
Joshua (I) — Old Dog Records Showcase at Route 66 Roadhouse

MPBYou released your first full length as a vinyl LP.

JoshuaWhen we were send­ing stuff into a local radio sta­tion, [we sent it out on a “burned” CD labeled with a Sharpie because there was no CD press­ing]. And I got a “con­struc­tive” crit­i­cism back [from the sta­tion] say­ing, You should do this,and you should do this, and the next day, I just took a [vinyl] copy up [to the sta­tion]. And he’s like, Aw, man, you did vinyl?, and I was like, Yeah, we didn’t think you could play this, so we burned you a home­made CD.

JonathanThe deci­sion to [release on] vinyl is prob­a­bly my fault. I felt like the CD is kind of a dead for­mat; […] vinyl has its lim­i­ta­tions […], but the prob­lem with CD, which the­o­ret­i­cally can have so much more dynamic range […], is that nobody ever uses it; every­body com­presses their music so much that [it’s never achieved].

JoshuaWe try to keep it as basic as pos­si­ble, and the sim­plest is usu­ally the best. Going back to the vinyl, we def­i­nitely got a lot more recog­ni­tion, like, some­body that might not nec­es­sar­ily pay much atten­tion [to us], they give you another look, Oh, you guys did vinyl? espe­cially from true music lovers […].

MPBYour pen­chant for sim­plic­ity, that seems to apply to your lyrics, too; they’re Hemingway-​esque in their effiency, while still retain­ing a poetic qual­ity. It seems you eschew sim­ile and metaphor; you sim­ply tell a story and tell it like it is. Do you agree?

JonathanFor the most part. There is some sub­text […].

MPBI agree that there’s sub­text; one of the things about Hemingway was that his sub­text was implied by what he didn’t say. In that sense, I think there’s plenty of sub­text in your songs.

JonathanAs far as metaphors, I agree — there’s prob­a­bly not — maybe I’m just not smart enough to write them that way [laughs]. All the ones I worked up, I’m usu­ally telling a story […] to con­vey an emo­tion or a feel­ing. [I’ll some­times ask some­one to come up with a feel­ing or an idea for me to write about.] The hard part is [com­ing up with] what that feel­ing is.

JoshuaThere’s lyrics that I’ve writ­ten that may sound like I’m try­ing to con­vey one thing and I’m […] really think­ing of another. Like, on Find You, there’s a love-​hate thing going on there, and I’m not really sure which is which.

MPBThere are sim­i­lar lan­guage and themes in Find You and also in Long Lost Friend; was that delib­er­ate?

JonathanJoshua wrote Find You and I wrote Long Lost Friend. I didn’t even know it hap­pened [laughs] until you just men­tioned it.

One thing that makes, not only [Josh and me] close, but also me and sev­eral of my friends, is that […] they’ve all been through […] a sit­u­a­tion where they’ve dated some­one and felt […] they weren’t get­ting the full story. […] Whether it’s valid or rea­son­able doesn’t mat­ter, ’cause that’s what you felt. […]

MPBWhere do the Black Jack Gypsys fit into the Old Dog Records fam­ily?

Jonathan[…] [Their drum­mer, Rob Derrick,] was at [the Trading Co. EP] ses­sions. […] They were a duo — gui­tar and drums — at that time; we were a duo — gui­tar and drums — and I don’t know if [Rob] was there to “check out the com­pe­ti­tion” or what it was, but those guys are [now] good friends of ours; Zak [Lindahl] had been friends with them for years; I had known of them for a lit­tle while […].

MPBDid either of them play in the “barn band”?For an expla­na­tion of the “barn band,” see the Kamals inter­view.

JonathanNo, [their cur­rent bassist], Zak Lindahl, he was in the barn band; it was actu­ally his [mother’s] barn. He played gui­tar along with Zak Kaczka […]; Loren Williams from the Kamals played drums, and then a guy named Matt Jewell still plays with them on and off. We’ve talked — he and I, and oth­ers — […] about get­ting together a side project.

So, the Black Jack Gypsys put out an EP [the epony­mous Black Jack Gypsys — Ed.] on Old Dog about a year ago; I don’t think they’ve been play­ing a lot of shows.They have appeared in a pair of Old Dog Records show­cases and some other shows since we con­ducted this inter­view. I think they’ve been work­ing on record­ing and get­ting new songs together […].

Jonathan (II)
Jonathan (II) — Old Dog Records Showcase at Route 66 Roadhouse

MPBHave you toured yet?

Joshua[We’ve] just [played] the Oklahoma City area. We def­i­nitely want to do some [tour­ing]; you know, Austin … we have some con­nec­tions in Fayetteville; we’d like to do a cou­ple of shows up there. But work is […] restrict­ing […]. I think we could take off for a week­end —

JonathanI don’t think that’s stop­ping us —

JoshuaNo, no; it’s get­ting in some of these venues, just try­ing to make a con­nec­tion with some­body, you know. Somebody says, Hey, come on down, and we string a cou­ple [of shows] together […].

We talked about doing it; we really want to do it. We’re prob­a­bly record­ing an EP soon, in the next year —

JonathanMaybe.

JoshuaEither an EP, if we decided to do it, but […] we’re only a cou­ple of songs away from [hav­ing enough mate­r­ial] for a full length [album].

JonathanI’d really like to [record] a live, in-​studio album. No over­dubs.

JoshuaHave a stu­dio audi­ence come in; once we have a stu­dio estab­lished. That’s been our only holdup so far.

Joshua (II)
Joshua (II) — Old Dog Records Showcase at Route 66 Roadhouse

MPBYou men­tioned dur­ing a break that you still need to pro­mote your new album fur­ther. Please elab­o­rate.

JonathanYou know, the album’s only been out for just over a month now. For all you kids out there, the hard­est part of being in a band is not play­ing the instru­ments or record­ing the music; it’s con­vinc­ing peo­ple to lis­ten to it and con­vinc­ing peo­ple to let you play shows.

We’ve done okay so far, but we have […] jobs and other con­straints. We’ve mailed out to tons of blogs; hope­fully, this interview’s gonna be seen by mil­lions […] [laugh­ter]. It’s things like that: sub­mit­ting [the album] to dif­fer­ent online enti­ties, as well as brick-​and-​mortar places. […]

MPBWhat’s on your iPods right now?

JoshuaBlack Crowes, Buffalo Killers, Radio Moscow

JonathanThey’re actu­ally good friends of ours.

JoshuaYou should check them out. [They’re a] band from Iowa —

JonathanIf you like ’60s psy­che­delic rock, you will like these guys. [Parker Griggs] is a guy that, his musi­cal style ended with MC5.

MPBSame ques­tion for you, Jonathan.

JonathanI’ve been a lit­tle weird lately; like Hayes Carll, which, that’s not weird; it’s great music. Charles Bradley; I love old Motown, Stax soul; I kinda like the old — you know, John Fullbright just got nom­i­nated for a Grammy.

MPBTerry Ware[, his gui­tarist,] is my neigh­bor.

JonathanI just got that album the other day. I’d been lis­ten­ing to that live one for­ever, but I just picked up the new one on vinyl the other day.

Josh men­tioned the Black Crowes; I think they’re a big influ­ence on us; I think Warpaint and Before the Frost are both great albums, that I think, because they came later, […] got over­looked. And there’s the Beatles, Neil Young, stuff like that that’ll never go off my iPod.

JoshuaJonathan likes more of the coun­try stuff, and I like the heav­ier psy­che­delic stuff.

JonathanThe other thing about my iPod is I’m an NPR freak, so I lis­ten to [NPR pod­casts] every day.

MPBSince you men­tion NPR, there’s some­thing I like to ask every musi­cian, a lit­tle thing I stole from Terry Gross, that I call, Redeem a Song. What’s a song you love, but might be embar­rassed to admit it, and why do you love it?

Joshua (IV)
Joshua (IV) — Old Dog Records Showcase at Route 66 Roadhouse

JoshuaThere’s a band called the Trishas. They’re a great band, but they’re really coun­try. I love them; I think they’re great song­writ­ers, but I can see some­body being sur­prised that I like them, know­ing what kind of music I lis­ten to. There’s a song called Trouble about My Soul; it’s frome their EP [it’s out of print on CD, but you can get it from iTunes — Ed.].

I kinda stum­bled upon these girls; I went snow ski­ing a cou­ple of years ago and they were hav­ing the first annual Songwriters’ Winter Fest in Red River [, NM]. In between runs and drink­ing Jäger at the bot­tom of the hill, a cou­ple of girls came in and set up in the cor­ner of the room with a lap steel and — I can’t remem­ber what the other girl had, like an acoustic and a hol­low body — and I was telling my friends that I could tell these chicks are gonna be good and we oughta stick around for them. I ended up watch­ing their whole set.

MPBJonathan?

Jonathan[…] Justin Timberlake. […] Not nec­es­sar­ily N’ Sync. Yeah, just the tal­ent, and [he’s] a very good singer; it’s some­thing I strug­gled with, singing, when I first started music, and I feel like I’ve grown by lis­ten­ing to peo­ple who can sing bet­ter than me. He can def­i­nitely sing bet­ter than me, but I don’t claim to have learned from him.

MPBName a spe­cific song?

JonathanWell, I’d like to bring SexyBack.

MPBHave you done it yet?

JonathanUh, I just held onto it. I never let go of it.

MPBThis is some­thing you would sing in the shower?

JonathanYou know, I never sing in the shower; I always sing in the car. In my own —

MPBYou know that peo­ple can see you in the car.

JoshuaI see peo­ple do that all the time; I look over and I’m like, I hope I don’t ever do that.

Jonathan— in my own fool­ish­ness, I prob­a­bly increased my abil­ity to sing, more than any­thing, [by lis­ten­ing to] Aretha Franklin. Because, she is the great­est singer of all time, and any­one who wants to argue [about that] is wrong. I mean, I can’t sing what she sings, but I can try, and it makes me bet­ter. Mavis Staples is the same way [for me].

MPBMakes sense, given the paper thin line between blues and gospel.

BothYeah.

MPBThank you both for com­ing down.

— Chris J. Zähller

Gallery: Route 66 Roadhouse

Gallery: Route 66 Roadhouse

Old Dog Records Showcase

About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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